Rowers take on Scotland’s coast – all 1,800 miles of it

Want to read more?

At the start of the pandemic in March we took the decision to make online access to our news free of charge by taking down our paywall. At a time where accurate information about Covid-19 was vital to our community, this was the right decision – even though it meant a drop in our income. In order to help safeguard the future of our journalism, the time has now come to reinstate our paywall, However, rest assured that access to all Covid related news will still remain free.

To access all other news will require a subscription, as it did pre-pandemic. The good news is that for the whole of December we will be running a special discounted offer to get 3 months access for the price of one month. Thank you for supporting us during this incredibly challenging time.

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a  subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.  In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).

Already a subscriber?


Subscribe Now

‘Oar’some communities across Scotland are getting ready to row around Scotland.

Former Cambridge Blue and Great Britain rower Sue Fenton from Seil is co-director of the first ever relay expedition attempting to circumnavigate over 1,800 miles of the Scottish coastline in an open top boat.

Funding for more than £11,000 has come from has come from the Year of Coasts and Waters Events Fund managed by Event Scotland, beating off stiff competition from other applicants, and the rest is being matched by St Ayles’ Skiff enthusiasts and crowdfunders, all adding pulling power to the challenge that could involve around 350 skiffies and their four oared boats from up to 70 clubs as far apart as Gretna to Orkney.

‘If the tides and wind are with us then it’ll be a doddle but we’re not elite athletes, just communities of all ages connecting with each other and our coastal heritage.

‘It’s going to be fantastic! Each section, with all its different clubs, will have a start and finish date so it’s up to the crews when they do it. It gives them wiggle room for inclement conditions! We wouldn’t want to make people feel they have to go out in Gale Force 5 or 6! Each crew will have about 10 miles to go, it’s not huge but it’s quite a thing,’ said Sue.

Working out safe passages and poring over maritime charts is a huge part of planning ahead and when land gets in the way between baton-handovers, eco-savvy organisers have come up with a water-tight plan.

‘The East Coast goes in a straight line  but the West Coast gets more complicated. We are going to try and link the off-shore clubs by using sustainable transport – horses, runners and bicycles to pass the baton on,’ said Sue.

Out on the water, skiff crews will also be turning filmmakers capturing footage on GoPros for a film destined for ocean and outdoor festival screens and will also be doing their bit to save the planet – taking water samples for micro-plastics.

The ambitious relay, starting from Gretna in April and ending six months later at Loch Tummel, will be part of the Year of Coast and Waters 2020 celebrations and marks the 10th anniversary of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA).

May will see the start of the Argyll section, with the Mid-Argyll Rowing Club coming through the Crinan then up the coast to Oban, taking in Craignish – who hope to have a skiff ready by then, said Sue. Other clubs in that section include Seil, Luing, Oban, Mull, Iona, Tiree, Appin, Glencoe and Fort William.

Those staying on dry land will still be able to follow the whole expedition’s progress as it travels clockwise around the coast because the baton will be fitted with a special tracker transmitting directly to a dedicated website and the RowAroundScotland Facebook page.

The relay’s final stretch will be crewed by members of SCRA’s first clubs from 2009 arriving at Loch Tummel just in time for the association’s annual general meeting on October 24.